How to save money fast: 20 ways

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It’s easier to stick to a goal the faster you see the results. None of these ideas will make you a fortune, but they can grow your savings quickly. By following a plan and using some discipline, you can find yourself with more money at the end of the week or month, and in time, the year.

Here are 20 ways to save money fast.

1. Cancel unnecessary subscription services and memberships

To be an effective saver, get rid of unnecessary subscriptions. Perhaps you signed up for a new streaming service for the free promotional period but forgot to cancel it. Or maybe you have a gym membership you no longer use. Go through your monthly credit card or bank statements to look for recurring subscription charges. Once you’ve canceled any unnecessary services, put that money into your savings account.

You don’t need an account at a specific institution to get a helping hand. There are a number of fintech services — like Trim and Truebill — that are designed to help you find ways to save on subscriptions and other bills.

2. Automate your savings with an app

If you often forget to put money into your savings account or struggle to know how much to sock away, consider using an app that does the work for you.

There are plenty of apps that will automate your savings. Qapital and Digit are two options. These automated savings apps are designed to move money on your behalf so that you’re building a savings habit without even thinking about it.

You won’t earn the highest APY (or sometimes any) on your deposits with these apps, so once you’ve saved up a bundle, consider transferring the money into a high-yield savings account.

3. Set up automatic payments for bills if you make a steady salary

We’re busy. It’s all too easy to forget to pay all of our bills on time. One easy way to save money is to pay your bills when they’re due, assuming you can afford to do so.

Companies charge you late fees for overdue balances. While this might amount to just $5 here or $10 there, those fees quickly add up. Credit card late fees can be a lot more expensive.

Setting up automatic payments for bills is a good option if you know you’ll have a steady balance in your checking account.

People with irregular income may want to hold off automating your bill payments and instead consider trying a service like Steady. The app will help you boost your income by connecting you to side hustles near your payday and bill due dates.

Some banks let you set up a rule within your digital banking account. At Chase, digital bank customers can set up an auto-savings rule so that when they, say, receive a $1,000 deposit, the bank will automatically move $100 of it into a savings account.

4. Switch banks

Banks make a lot of money from account fees. In fact, big banks with at least $1 billion in assets made $11.68 billion in 2019 in overdraft and non-sufficient funds fees alone, according to an analysis of FDIC data by the Center for Responsible Lending.

It’s easy to avoid paying monthly fees, particularly at online banks. Nearly half (47 percent) of checking accounts that don’t earn interest are free, according to Bankrate’s 2020 checking account and ATM fee study. Some banks will even give you a generous bonus just for opening an account.

For your savings account, look for one that pays a competitive yield. Compare savings accounts to find one that fits your needs.

5. Open a short-term certificate of deposit (CD)

A one-year CD could help you earn more interest than a savings account. Plus, a CD’s annual percentage yield (APY) is usually fixed; as long as you keep the money in the CD through the duration of the term, you’re guaranteed to earn the APY.

One important caveat: Avoid CDs if you think you might need the cash before the CD term ends, so you won’t have to pay an early withdrawal penalties.

6. Sign up for rewards and loyalty programs

Sign up for discount cards at grocery stores and drug stores in your area.

Using these programs regularly can help you save money at checkout or possibly help you earn rewards toward future purchases.

7. Buy with cash or set a control on your card

You can trick your brain into saving money every time you go to the store by using cash instead of a credit card to make a purchase. Whatever cash you have is your spending limit.

It’s too easy to lose sight of limits with a credit card.

8. Stop paying for convenience

Paying for convenience can save time, but it can cost you money.

Taking a little extra time out of your day to brew your own coffee or clean and repair things around the house can grow your bank account.

Choose to reduce your expenses on things you care less about. It’s perfectly fine to buy coffee from a coffee shop if that’s important to you, but find something else to cut.

9. Earn cash back on your purchases

Even when times are toughest, you’ll still need to spend money on essentials, so you might as well be rewarded with cash back. There are cash-back credit cards that can help you collect cash back on your purchases. Some don’t even have an annual fee.

Your existing credit card might also have cash-back offers at certain retailers, but you might need to opt in to redeem this reward. These offers may have an expiration date or other terms and conditions, so double check to ensure you’re not caught off-guard.

Cash-back apps might also be an option to consider before you start shopping for new credit cards.

10. Re-evaluate your recurring bills

Look at your cable, satellite or streaming options to potentially save money. You might start off with a good deal from your cable or satellite provider which lapses after an initial period. Finding a new deal after a couple of years could save you money.

11. Look for coupons and sales

Planning ahead with coupons and checking around for sales can make a major difference. Looking through store flyers and online can help you get a good deal and save money. A website extension, such as Honey’s browser add-on, looks out for coupon codes for you.

12. Sell unwanted items

Sell items you don’t need for an injection of cash fast.

Look at your closet, attic, garage or storage space to find the dress or ring or hiking boots you no longer wear. Then, write a post about the item(s) and sell them on, say, eBay or Nextdoor. You could also head to the local thrift store to sell items you no longer use.

A garage sale might be an option for selling many items at once.

Whatever approach you take, do your homework to avoid regrets. Make sure you know the value of an item before you sell it for less than it is worth.

13. Re-evaluate your housing costs

Housing costs — such as rent or mortgage payments — are some of the largest expenses in most budgets. Moving to a place with a lower rent could help you start saving immediately. Refinancing your mortgage can help you save money on monthly payments and in the long run. But make sure it makes sense for your situation.

14. Shop around for insurance

Shopping around for insurance can help you save money. Sometimes you’ll find a better deal as a new customer or you can contact your existing insurer to ask them to lower your current rate if it has gone up. Bundling insurance products with the same insurance company can also help you save.

15. Set up a split deposit

Saving automatically is a great way to save. Have some of your paycheck deposited right into a savings account. Or your bank might be able to set recurring transfers from checking to savings.

16. Downgrade an annual fee credit card

Sometimes an annual fee credit card can provide real benefits. But it might not make sense to pay this annual fee if the card discontinues these benefits, or if you aren’t fully utilizing the benefits. Downgrading to a no-annual-fee card might be a better fit for you, if this is an option. Call your issuer to see if you’re able to downgrade your current card to a no-fee card.

17. Cook your own meals

Food can be a large expense in your budget. Prep for your upcoming meals and have a clear understanding of what you need from the grocery store. Make a list, look for coupons, and try not to buy anything that didn’t make it on the list.

Even without coupons, buying food at a grocery store will be significantly less expensive than ordering carryout or eating at restaurants.

18. Try a no-spend day

Not spending any money in a day or week can help you quickly save money. This can force you to think about every dollar you spend. After a no-spend day (or days), you may also realize your spending habits have improved.

19. Make a budget

Assessing your spending is a way to find areas where you may be wasting money. This can be an eye-opening process. Budgeting will help you plan your spending. Bank and credit card statements can help you assess past spending.

You can sign up for Bankrate’s myMoney to categorize your spending transactions, identify ways to cut back and improve your financial health.

20. Eliminate one spending habit today

There’s probably one treat or convenience that you’re paying for on a daily or regular basis that you can live without (or indulge in less often). Over time, you may get used to skipping this item and it will no longer be a habit.

Recap of 20 ways to save money fast

  • Cancel unnecessary subscription services and memberships
  • Try an app that helps you save without thinking about it
  • Set up automatic payments for bills if you make a steady salary
  • Switch banks
  • Open a short-term CD
  • Sign up for rewards and loyalty programs
  • Buy with cash instead or set a control on your payment card
  • Stop paying for convenience
  • Earn cash back on your purchases
  • Reevaluate your recurring bills
  • Look for coupons and sales
  • Sell unwanted items
  • Re-evaluate your housing costs
  • Shop around for insurance
  • Set up a split deposit
  • Downgrade an annual fee credit card
  • Cook your own meals
  • Try a no-spend day
  • Make a budget
  • Eliminate one spending habit today
Written by
Matthew Goldberg
Consumer banking reporter
Matthew Goldberg is a consumer banking reporter at Bankrate. Matthew has been in financial services for more than a decade, in banking and insurance.
Edited by
Senior editorial director
Reviewed by
Allyson Johnson
Head of investor relations, Gateway Partners